Gun bills inspired by Charleston church shooting stall in committee
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The words "Charleston loophole" evoke emotions from both sides of the gun debate in South Carolina.
Those words are linked to the notion that had state gun laws been different in June 2015, convicted Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof would not have been able to purchase a gun and attack parishioners.
The words refer to the state law that requires a three-day wait period for a background check before a person can buy a gun if a person is not immediately
cleared for or denied from the purchase first. Under state law, the purchase can happen after three days even if the background check isn't complete.
But lawmakers say Roof's ability to purchase a firearm was actually a fluke, and he shouldn't have been able to buy the gun because of his criminal
background. Still, some senators are pushing for bills to lengthen the waiting period in hopes there can be more stops for people who shouldn't possess firearms.
One bill, S. 516, would add two days to the wait time, and adds criminal background reporting requirements.
"This is not something that's fail-safe but it is something that does I think increase the likelihood of getting people into the database who should
not be legally allowed to purchase a weapon," bill sponsor Sen. Chauncey Gregory (R- Lancaster) says.
One person who testified in the Tuesday morning meeting in support of this bill but also another bill, Sen. Gerald Malloy's (D- Darlington) bill to lengthen the wait to 28 days, is Jillian Hollingsworth.
"I know that there's no easy fix. I know that there's no one law that's going to keep bad people from doing bad things but we can do something, we
can start somewhere," Hollingsworth says.
Hollingsworth's sister-in-law was the teacher injured in the Townville Elementary School shooting in the fall. Hollingsworth reports her sister-in-law
is recovering, and has returned to teach. While new laws may not have prevented the shooting, Hollingsworth says it's driven her to advocate for change.
"You know, extending to 30 days would be a more inclusive time frame to make sure that all the data has been found that could potentially keep a gun
out of the wrong hands," she says.
But other South Carolinians see any further regulations on guns as an infringement on their rights.
"...Go from a three day to a five day to a 28-day wait…somebody may be in jeopardy and don't have 28 days to wait to be able to purchase a weapon.
Somebody may be in need to carry their weapon, and right now the only way to do that in South Carolina is concealed and with a concealed weapons permit," John Lane, with SC Carry says.
Neither the bill for the five-day wait period or 28-day period moved out of the Senate committee on Tuesday.
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